Whilst travelling across London for a multi agency information-sharing event, I had a number of changes to make using the London Underground. Although it was a route I had not taken before, I managed to easily get from A to B and to my final destination safely and on time.
I kept thinking, although it is undeniably complex with a number of lines, stations, tunnels and escalators, the underground - this year celebrating its 150th anniversary, still manages to get people where people need to be around London generally on time, and safely every day. In essence the Underground meets the ‘needs’ of London commuters.
Why can’t public services be as efficient as London Underground when it comes to moving information from A to B safely, on time and appropriately arriving at its destination?.
Firstly, do we naturally acknowledge that you need resources with clear roles and responsibilities to get information (or people in the case of the underground) flowing, or do we take it for granted, presuming that it all just happens with the press of a button?
Secondly, from an information management perspective surely it should be as easy as getting on the tube, knowing what time you need to set off; where you are going and why. Maybe that’s the point, do we know exactly why, how and when we need information or is it just a sporadic knee jerk reaction.
When the panic button is pressed and we all scramble together trying to find or agree protocols and agreements, I think that we need to step back for a minute and reflect; protocols and agreements alone are not the answer.
Thirdly, we need to think more strategically with partners about what information we need to be sharing. Especially if we are going to improve the outcomes for the people we serve, and address Public Sector Reform. Clearly Information-sharing is merely a process, it’s not the outcome and is just the start of getting on the tube so to speak.
I think that by agreeing a common vision and underpinning strategy, which supports the approach around information-sharing and governance, organisations would raise awareness of the importance of information. They would address cultural issues and better resource practical issues around why, how, and when information will be shared.
We all go through an annual business planning process, outlining what we aim to deliver. As part of that process we assess such things as the finances needed, and the people who will enable that activity to be successfully delivered. A suggestion ….. why don’t we assess information needs and overall information management for that year.?
Luckily for me, and with time to spare, I delivered my presentation after successfully reaching my final destination.